10 things I learnt growing a paid community (Weekend Club) to $500 MRR

I started weekendclub.co in October last year. It was a paid accountability community for Indie Hackers focused on IRL London co-working spaces, and everything was going great, until COVID-19. 😱

Now we run weekly, remote accountability sessions over Zoom and Slack, providing each other early stage product feedback and the motivation to keep shipping consistently, with our members building things like https://simplepoll.rocks, https://VEED.IO and https://calenduck.co.

Last week I shared my story and 10 biggest learnings at Community Chat Summit to over 300 people, and thought the good folks like yourself at Indie Hackers might be interested too.

So without further ado, here they are. Any questions or thoughts, please let me know in the comments 😃

1/ There is no playbook, nobody is coming to save you.

While good resources do exist, to a great extent you need to figure things out. Lots of situations you find yourself in as a founder or community leader fall between the cracks of what people commonly write about.

2/ What works offline, rarely works online.

You can't just dump an offline experience online, it needs rethinking from first principles. To replicate the social side of IRL meetups, we added randomly matched accountability buddies on the Saturday sessions, guided lunch conversations and do DM intros each Wednesday on Slack.

3/ Implement community guidelines early

Community guidelines influence cultural norms, which are far harder to change at 200 members than 20. These should take a clear view on what and who your community's for. 'You can't unbake a cake.'

4/ Do things that (don't) scale

I can't express this strongly enough. In the early days, your user onboarding and customer service should be inefficient, as you're personalising it and taking the extra care. That's what it takes to get off the ground, especially for communities.

At Weekend Club we send new members a personalised welcome pack. While I can't measure to what extent that has helped, I attribute our low churn to things like this.

5/ The platform you use for your remote community is critical

The experience of running a remote community on say, Slack, is very different from Circle or Mighty Networks. There are tradeoffs for each.

Think about who your members are, what they're used to and what they're there for, then work backwards.

6/ You make what you measure

What you measure heavily influences your focus, so choose wisely. Early stage companies with users should have some quantitative idea of how happy their customers are.

Net Promoter Score is popular, but I recommend the product/market fit approach championed by Rahul Vohra at Superhuman https://firstround.com/review/how-superhuman-built-an-engine-to-find-product-market-fit.

7/ Raise prices

This is becoming pretty common advice in bootstrapper world now, but you're far likelier to be under charging (or not charging) than overcharging. I still see this pretty often.

8/ Gamification works

We saw member engagement and general helpfulness towards each other skyrocket after creating a 'Most Helpful' leaderboard. Members can comment a custom emoji on people's posts and it'll automatically assign them a point for that month.

9/ Create more leaders

Half our sessions are now run by another member, James McKinven. At some point you need to give up a degree of control, and give breathing room to your most engaged members. Hiring from within means your community's led by those who understand and care about it.

10/ Build in public

For 95% of companies, building in public is a no brainer. The amount of early feedback I received, free awareness I drove and accountability I gave myself could only have come from sharing what I was building, as I was building it. Share early, and share often.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know! If this sounds like it's for you, sign up for a 30 day free trial at weekendclub.co 🔥

  1. 2

    Interested to know if you have considered running these during the week to?

    Or if you know of people doing this?

    I work on my business full time during the week by myself

    daily or 3 times a week or weekly stand up and accountability partners with other solo entrepreneurs via video would be hella interesting.

    1. 1

      A bunch of people have asked me before Tyler (including existing members) - it’s just tricky as I still have a full time job.

      It’s something I’m definitely considering though.

      I’d love to chat to you more about this. I’ll drop you a quick email. 🙌

  2. 2

    He’s a man with a plan. How often do people dive into things without thinking about them deeply beforehand? Not Charlie 💪

    1. 1

      Andrew, you are too kind!

  3. 2

    Great advice! For building in public (no. 10), what did you find most effective? Is this primarily through your own community (i.e. on a more individual or small group level), or through blog/IH/twitter posts etc? Or is the most important thing just that your customers see your progress and can be a part of it?

    1. 1

      I think it’s situation dependent, but I did the following:

      • posted milestones on Indie Hackers
      • posted regular (monthly) updates on Twitter, this would include milestones but also smaller things like a new landing page
      • shared regularly in private Slack groups and with friends
      1. 2

        Thanks, that makes a lot of sense and has obviously worked well

  4. 2

    on 5. I am super interested, what type of community that u think would be fitting with a chat app like slack?

    1. 1

      We run Weekend Club on Slack. The reason it works is our community’s built around synchronous working sessions on Saturdays, with many members (currently) in the same time zone.

      Messaging works well for this use case, while asynchronous tools like Circle work better for global communities that don’t require instant communication.

      1. 2

        do u think circle will be a better fit if their forum is real-time?

        1. 1

          Quite the opposite. Tools like Circle / Mighty Networks are better for asynchronous communication.

          1. 1

            But circle has real time chat as well right?

            1. 1

              I think it has a very basic direct messaging feature, but I just went on there and couldn't even find it. I'm pretty sure it's not in the same league as Slack for instant messaging.

              1. 2

                lol i feel man, it's not as good when it comes instand messaging.

                1. 1

                  Slack’s combo of channels, letting you comment with emojis + upload bespoke ones is magical. Very few chat apps compare IMO.

                  1. 2

                    are those important to ur community? emoji and upload bespoke ones

                    1. 1

                      Yes but I think it’s an underrated reason why Slack’s successful. It’s just fun to use.

  5. 2

    Great advise! Gives me a jumping off point for how to build a community. Are there other resources you recommend for new co-founders?

      1. 2

        Thanks, Charlie! I’ve signed up for Rosie’s newsletter, but I didn’t know there’s a book. 🤩

        1. 1

          The book is great and mercifully short 🥳

  6. 2

    Loved the session - Didn't get to see it live, but been catching up on the videos and just watched yours this morning actually.

    1. 1

      Ah thanks - hugely appreciated. I was kinda nervous about the presentation, so glad it went down well.

  7. 2

    interesting landing page. I have something very similar to this with my affiliate media buying community.

    1. 1

      Thanks! That sounds interesting, got a link?

      1. 2

        mine is ADvengersOnline.com - it is meant for the media buyers and affiliates of my space.

        1. 1

          Sounds like a solid niche!

  8. 2

    Hi Charlie,
    I'm very interested in trying out Weekendclub. I'd also love to get your feedback on our community building tool Panion: https://panion.com

    1. 1

      Awesome, thanks. I'll check Panion out :)

  9. 2

    Awesome work bud - been fun to be a part of it.

    1. 1

      It's been a pleasure 🙏

  10. 2

    Excellent stuff, Charlie 👏

    1. 1

      Thanks mate. It's been a journey. 🤯

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